Jan 29, 2015–CARTHAGE, NC–Reflecting more than six months of work, the Moore County Voter Integrity Project, today, gave their Board of Elections a first batch of challenges to the rights of 109 voters to remain registered in their precinct long after abandoning the address they gave in their registrations.
“The challenges trigger a quasi-judicial proceeding,” said Jay DeLancy, Director of the non-partisan, Raleigh-based, Voter Integrity Project. “The Moore VIP team’s action allows their election board to investigate and potentially remove these voters from the rolls, since they no longer live here.”
Beyond the challenge procedure and voters self-reported moves, the only other way for election officials to legally remove a voter from the rolls is by following a the NVRA (or “Motor Voter”). DeLancy calls the NVRA “a fraud-friendly law,” created in 1993, that forces states to keep hundreds of thousands of missing voters on the rolls up to eight years after they’ve already moved away. Before their most recent voter list purge, the NC Board of Elections included 739,041 such voters, according to VIP.
“To be clear, there’s nothing inherently fraudulent about these voters remaining registered,” said Dee Park, Co-Director of the Moore VIP team, “but it’s just too much of an invitation for other people to borrow a name and go to the pools and claim that they are [for example] Jane Doe. We’ve got to stop that and we can do it by cleaning up the rolls.”
For the past six months, the group of “around 40” Moore county volunteers examined the voter rolls and investigated registrations that had four or more people listed at the same address with different last names. Today’s challenges represented the first of three batches of challenges.
“Our research involved both mailing letters and knocking on doors to collect statements from people currently residing at the address of interest,” said Ms. Park, “and Glenda Clendenin gave us timely advice all along the way.”
Ms. Clendenin, Director of the Moore County Board of Elections, has worked with Ms. Park and others for several years to help institute methods for the timely removal of deceased persons still registered to vote.
“We appreciate their efforts in helping us have good records in Moore County,” she said. “This [current project] should serve as a reminder to all voters the importance of keeping their records up to date with us. That’s not always on our minds when we’re moving or closing our post office box.”
The Moore VIP team raised funds to conduct their own mailings at no cost to the government, and in many cases, that action prompted the recipients to call the county BOE and update their records. Others called the Moore VIP team directly.
“It’s amazing how many calls and letters we received after we told certain voters about others being registered at their address,” said Carol Wheeldon, the other Co-Director of the Moore County VIP. “The responses have been positive and the voters have been very cooperative with both us and the BOE.”
The Moore County VIP team based their research efforts on analytic data provided by the Voter Integrity Project of NC, whose leader contends the committee challenges will help save taxpayer dollars in Moore County. (VIP – NC has supported similar county teams that filed two rounds of challenges in Buncombe County–the first, covered by local TV news here; and the second, covered by USA Today here–along with one round in Henderson County detailed here. Other counties are in varying stages of development toward getting their first challenges filed.)
“All of the voters being challenged by the Moore committee are people who abandoned their domicile,” said DeLancy, “and keeping such missing voters on the rolls any longer than necessary creates both fruitless mailings and costly administrative burdens for the Board of Election’s staff.”
The preliminary hearing for the first 109 challenges, set for Tuesday, Feb 10 at 9:00 A.M., will be held at the BOE office in Carthage.
“By all means come if you wish,” said Ms. Park. “Both the Republican and Democratic leaders have been invited, along with the heads of the League of Women Voters and of Moore TEA Citizens.”
The Moore County VIP hopes their actions will inspire people across the state to join the effort in their own neighborhoods.
“We’re hopeful that people in all one hundred counties will scratch their heads and say, ‘you know, these are just regular folks like me,'” she said. “‘If I get a group of people together we can clean up the rolls in our county too.'”
(Editorial note. Posting of this story was delayed due to internal communication technology issues and a high operations tempo at VIP over the past five days. Please check back to this site often to learn more about some exciting news that may be breaking any day!)